Skip to main content

Data-driven operations

Seeing the big picture, solving the right problem and finding the answer faster.

What is data-driven operations?

Networks are becoming more complex. Software-defined networks, network functions virtualization, network slicing combined with customer managed services through portals to allow the addition, modification and deletion of services means it’s becoming harder and harder for operations teams to stay on top of things.

More than that, customers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding with regards to the services they purchase—especially when it comes to quality. Virtualization makes it easier for them to change service providers, so quality absolutely matters.

Detecting and fixing issues before the customer even notices—this is no longer just a wish.

By leveraging big data and analytics, operations teams can now proactively see potential service impacting issues as they arise, develop prioritized plans of attack to address them, execute corrective actions and verify fixes without any customer complaints.

Are you ready to take your customers’ quality of experience to the next level?

EXFO has the expertise and solutions you need to become a data-driven, customer-focused operations team.


How will data-driven operations impact carriers?

Modern networks need to rely heavily on automation due to scale and complexity concerns. Automation, in turn relies heavily on analytics that can sort through a sea of data to find the hidden trends and issues that are causing unwanted behavior in the network: congestion, dropped calls, even equipment failures. And in a virtual network, some of these issues are only detectable by correlating many small changes in seemingly unrelated performance indicators. Having the right data and understanding the full impact will be critical to effective operations in the transformed network.

Good analytics needs good data

The quality of any assessment is only as good as the information used to make it. For data-driven operations, this means having a complete set of real-time, precise key performance indicators (KPIs) for both the network and the services it carries. In fact, in an SDN/NFV network where there may be no direct correlation between the physical topology and service topology, it’s important to have KPIs for every service. Correlating changes in service KPIs, even before they indicate an issue, can lead to the discovery of hidden but more widespread problems, impacting many services. 

Ideally, KPI generation should be part of the service definition itself, being measured at the service endpoints and in a consistent manner for all services. This end-to-end view provides the closest measurement to what the customer is actually experiencing.


How will carriers benefit from data-driven operations?

Networks are in transition. SDN and NFV will completely change the way networks are planned, built and managed. At the same time, carriers continue to experience attrition in their pool of skilled, experienced personnel and for some carriers, many of these positions may not be backfilled. Data-driven operations allow carriers to change their operation paradigm, enabling their shrinking, younger workforce to ‘do more with less’. Having the right data combined with actionable, policy-driven insight is critical to successfully managing this transformation.

Cost-effective operations

With the scale and complexity of today’s networks growing all the time, there can be no doubt that automation will need to touch almost every aspect of operations—from capacity planning to service provisioning to troubleshooting and maintenance. Carriers are making significant investments to adopt and embed automation into as many aspects of their business as possible. An important benefit of this transformation will be offloading of many manually intensive tasks which typically require highly trained and experienced technicians. For example, troubleshooting and root-cause analysis often required a 2nd or 3rd level technician with a deep understanding of the way the network works to be able to come up with a suitable solution. With a data-driven operations model, this knowledge is embedded in the automation systems allowing optimal solutions that can take into account additional dependencies and network impacts, to be developed in minutes rather than hours or days; and, with fewer expensive technicians, less chance of human error and consistency with network policies.


Operations teams are being driven to cut expenses, make better decisions, shorten the time taken to identify and resolve issues—basically, do more with less. And at the same time, they need to make sure customer satisfaction remains high. Data-driven operations are essential to meeting these goals. Having the right information, at the right time to make the right decision will drive efficiencies throughout the organization. Do you have the right systems in place to be a data-driven operations team?

KPI generation

For data-driven operations to be successful you need data. Specifically you need a broad range of key performance indicators for services, networks and customers. Active probing solutions are the best way to derive end-to-end service KPIs while passive methods such as SNMP polling are good for getting equipment and network KPIs. Derived KPI metrics, such as a mean opinion score (MOS), provide good insight into the customer’s experience.

When deriving service metrics using active probing, it is becoming more and more critical to have one-way metrics which provide an independent view of the transmit and receive directions. Many services are highly asymmetric in nature and therefore may not experience the same delay in both directions. Additionally, in SDN networks, there’s no guarantee that the transmit and receive direction will follow the same path.

EXFO has an extensive portfolio of active probing solutions, both physical and virtual, as well as the tools and systems to gather, correlate and analyze network, service and customer KPIs from many sources, including 3rd party devices.